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Dedicated to the sovereignty
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Principled Policy: Open Meetings

Wednesday afternoon, Mar. 18, 2020 UPDATE: HB 2725 is dead.

Several representatives rallied to the call for action and filed 18 amendments. They weren't poison pill amendments -- they were actually designed to make the bill acceptable, or even good.

There was no interest in compromise, though, and the bill was DOA.

Thank you, all, for rising to the occasion!


Missouri First Home

URGENT! HB 2725 upends the foundations of our republic! (Suspends open meeting requirements.)

March 17, 2020

The “Grievances” section of American Declaration of Independence is often overlooked, but it can be very useful in an effort to keep us from straying too far from the principles that made America good and great.

That's especially true during traumatic times, when we may not be focused on the big picture or the long run.

Our forefathers had this complaint about King George in the 4th Grievance:

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."

It was the King's intent to thwart representative governance.

Several of the other grievances deal with the same issue. This sort of destruction of the representation the American colonists expected was enough to ignite a war.

Our forefathers died and suffered for several years in that war to secure the liberty we enjoy today. Their level of sacrifice makes the worst we have seen from COVID 19 look like child's play.

The House Committee Substitute for HB 2725 is an insult to their sacrifice.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the insult is intentional. I think HB 2725 is a good-faith effort to deal with a highly unusual and emotionally charged situation with grave potential. It's an effort to make sure essential decisions can be made during a time when we should be minimizing social contact – a laudable goal.

And HB 2725 even has potential to become something reasonable.

If you don't help RIGHT NOW, however, the Missouri House of Representatives will take it up and pass it in a very bad form on Wednesday, March 18.


WHAT HB 2725 DOES

The Missouri Constitution Article III, Section 20 requires that,

“The sessions of each house [of the state legislature] shall be held with open doors, except in cases which may require secrecy...”

But HB 2725 would allow Missouri law-makers to enact the laws that affect our lives and liberty outside the scrutiny of the people of Missouri. Although the HB 2725 requires video and audio recording of proceedings, what will be videoed is only a small part of the total process.

As someone who has been a legislative watchdog for nearly 2 ½ decades, I can tell you that you have to have boots on the ground to have any real hope of knowing what's going on.

HB 2725's suspension of open meeting requirements would apply to both local and state government when a state of emergency exists due to a contagious illness.

Section 20, above, only applies to the state legislature.

 

HOW TO FIX HB 2725

1) First, the Constitution simply doesn't allow for closed door session of the General Assembly, so an amendment is needed to explicitly except the state legislature.

2) The next most important fix for HB 2725 is to put a sunset on any actions that are taken in closed door meetings of local administrative or legislative bodies. This provision is necessary to discourage and minimize the inevitable mischief and abuse of power.

All actions taken, including but not limited to establishing rules, and enacting ordinances or statutes, by a body holding a meeting not open to the public should terminate at the conclusion of the following meeting of that body, or one month, whichever is later.

3) Each administrative or legislative body should have the final determination whether to close meetings pursuant to 610.021( 25). No rule or executive order shall have the power to compel such body to close meetings.

The committee substitute for HB 2725 included a wise provision that requires live streaming of any meetings closed to the public, if possible, and admission of the press. But in order to ensure the ability of citizens to monitor proceedings, the following amendments should be added:

1) The press shall be permitted to audio and video record all proceedings in additon to any recording done by the governmental body.

2) Audio and video quality shall be accessed by any press present, and the proceeding continue only upon the press' satisfaction that the quality is sufficient to inform the public of the proceedings.

3) No business shall be conducted in any fashion that does not conform to the above quality standards.

4) The violation of any of the standards for press accessibility at a given proceeding invalidates any decisions, ordinances, or statutes resulting from that proceeding.

ACTION ITEM

Before 10 am Wednesday (tomorrow or today, depending when you're reading this), email AND call your Missouri state rep and tell him:

Do not pass HB 2725 without fixing the constitutional problem and to put a sunset clause in the bill.

Here's a list of state reps: https://house.mo.gov/MemberRoster.aspx

Many of the rules have been suspended to shove this bill through and that results in much less deliberation of a critical and sensitive matter. They plan to do Wednesday what they usually have to do on two separate days.

Please make your call now, even if you have to leave an after hour message. Send your email now.

I want to reiterate, this bill is the result of well-intentioned people that have felt the need to act before they had a chance to think it all through.

Do not be mean spirited when you make your calls!

In Liberty,

- Ron



 

Missouri Constitution:

“The sessions of each house [of the state legislature] shall be held with open doors, except in cases which may require secrecy...”.

Art. III Sec. 20

 

"That the people have the right peaceably to assemble for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition or remonstrance."

Art. I Sec. 9

 

ACTION ITEM

Before 10 am Wednesday (tomorrow or today, depending when you're reading this), email AND call your Missouri state rep and tell him:

Do not pass HB 2725 without fixing the constitutional problem and to put a sunset clause in the bill.

Click here for a list of state reps.

 

HB 2725 Link


 

 

 

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